When did you become a franchisee?
We opened our in-toto Swindon studio two years ago, in January 2012.
What did you do before joining the in-toto franchise?
I had spent twenty-five years in the corporate world of telecoms before taking the satisfying step into self-employment. I was tired of the long commute in my previous job and I wanted to start a new career. My wife, Hilda is a part-time tennis coach but also has previous experience in HR and marketing. Although neither of us had been involved in the kitchen industry before, I started out as an engineering designer and have a strong technical background that has aided a smooth transition to planning kitchens using CAD software. I believe that Hilda and I have a good mix of skills that work well together.
What research did you do?
We did a lot of research into different franchises by visiting exhibitions, talking to existing franchisees and investigating various business models from vehicle repair companies to greetings cards.
Why did you choose in-toto?
Credibility was important to us both and we felt secure in joining an established business with clear signs of growth and a reputation for great customer service from start to finish. The product was also very important in our choice and in-toto kitchens are very good quality. A big part of our decision to join in-toto was influenced by the people in the company too. It has a strong family feel that appealed to us.
Why did you choose an existing studio rather than a new location?
We were happily living in Swindon and the previous owner of our local in-toto studio wanted to enjoy his retirement. Taking over an existing showroom was reassuring because it had built up a good track record and we got instant recommendations so business got off to a flying start. We sold two kitchens within the first month and took over ten existing orders. Choosing to buy a re-sale rather than looking for new premises also gave us confidence because we were able to see the books and evaluate the established business.
How has your business progressed?
We have won a Neff Excellence Award for Best Regional Master Partner and we are enjoying our new life together. It’s great to be hands-on in the business and we are very busy – we’ve got 5 kitchen orders this month!
What has been the best moment?
My greatest satisfaction has come from leaving the rat race and working with my wife. in-toto has brought us together in business.